Serial Turkish shelling grows fears of residents in Syria’s Ain Issa

AIN ISSA, Syria (North Press) – Despite of two days of calm in the town of Ain Issa and its countryside, Abed Awwad still fears that bombardment renews since he knows that the calmness will not last for long.

While existing the center of the town, Awwad, in his 50s, says shelling halts for few days and then suddenly shells start to target the town and its surrounding from the areas held by Turkish forces and their affiliated armed Syrian opposition factions.

He added, “Sudden shelling threatens the life of our children and ours.”

Two days ago, the Turkish forces and their affiliated factions, also known as Syrian National Army (SNA), from their base in the village of al-Sherkerak north of Raqqa, targeted the villages of Sayda, al-Fatsah, al-Mushayrfa and al-Jahbal, al-Hewaija and Ma’lleq east of Ain Issa.

Days earlier, silos northeast of the town underwent indiscriminate intermittent Turkish shelling with mortars and artillery shells.

Though Awwad and his family are at the risk of being targeted, he insists on staying in the town, while others were pushed by the successive shelling to flee their houses.

Awwad demands guarantor states [Russia and the US] of ceasefire, though he does not trust them, assume their responsibilities and intervene to stop the Turkish shelling.

He describes the guarantor states as “liars” and “indifferent” despite conducting so many public sit-ins in front of Russian posts.

On July 24, residents of Ain Issa protested in front of the Russian base against Russian silence over Turkish successive bombardments of the area.

Syrian government forces are deployed in several posts in the town in addition to the Russian base, which was situated after agreements with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Following the Turkish incursion in October 2019, Turkey signed two ceasefire agreements, one with Russia and the other with the US stipulating ceasing all hostilities and the withdrawal of the SDF 32 km away from the Turkish border.

The SDF did withdrew from the border areas according to the agreement, but Turkey continues targeting the area.

The 45-year-old Ahmad Zaher expresses his fear for his children’s life since they do not have any place to go to in case they are forced to flee.

Zaher says Turkey and the SNA factions target the area again in less than 24 hours, adding, “They want to displace us from our houses.”

He also demands the guarantor states and humanitarian and human rights organizations intervene to stop the shelling of innocent civilians in the town.

On May 24, the US voiced concern over the Turkish shelling of the areas in northeastern Syria.

Ned Price spokesperson for the US Department of State said the US was expecting Turkey to live up to a October 2019 joint statement, including a halt in offensive operations in northeastern Syria.

However, this has not make any change on the ground, Turkey continues to shell the areas on border strip northeast Syria on a daily basis, and it has escalated its attacks following Tehran Summit, using drones to hit civil and military vehicles along with artillery shelling.

On July 19, the Russian-Iranian-Turkish summit was held in Tehran within the framework of Astana Peace Talks, which would be held on July 20 and 21.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced plans to carry out another major military cross-border incursion into northern Syria. Erdogan specified his targets in the two northern Syrian cities of Manbij and Tel Rifaat.

On July 1, Erdogan said that Ankara’s new military operation in northern Syria could begin at any moment.

“I always say that we can start [the incursion] at any moment at night. We should not worry and rush, especially since we are working in the area,” Erdogan told reporters after returning from the NATO summit in Madrid.

The 35-year-old Zahra Ramadan said, “We only want to live in peace and safety, we are civilians each has a work to do, some cultivate their lands and others breed their sheep, we only want to spend our days peacefully.”

She added that their bad luck “makes us a crime for politics and at the mercy of the Turkish ambitions to occupy Ain Issa to barter it later.”

Reporting by Gulistan Muhammad